Ill. sens., reps. cheer reopening, chide Trump

Congressman Garcia charges president instigated ‘made-up crisis at the border’ to ‘portray immigrants in the worst light possible’

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia called the entire government shutdown “a made-up crisis at the border” intended to “portray immigrants in the worst light possible.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia called the entire government shutdown “a made-up crisis at the border” intended to “portray immigrants in the worst light possible.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

The Illinois congressional delegation cheered the end of the government shutdown over the weekend, but chided the president for instigating “a made-up crisis at the border.”

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, of Chicago, cited the 35 days it took President Trump and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the partial shutdown and issued a statement saying, “The pocketbooks of 800,000 workers who lived in uncertainty for more than a month will not be able to recover immediately.”

Garcia called for federal workers under contract to receive back pay and labeled the shutdown “a made-up crisis at the border” intended by Trump to “portray immigrants in the worst light possible.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth emphasized that the president brought on the shutdown and maintained it for more than a month while government employees were either furloughed or forced to work critical jobs, such as airline security, without getting paid.

Duckworth pointed out she voted to keep the government open in December, as the U.S. Senate did unanimously, but “Donald Trump then announced he would refuse to sign any government funding legislation unless it included billions of taxpayer dollars for a wall that he had promised Mexico would pay for, sparking the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.”

Even after Democrats took control of the U.S. House with the new year, and passed legislation like what had already cleared the Senate, McConnell refused to call a new vote on it until Thursday, when Republican senators did an about face and at first held firm against reopening the government. Trump reversed course Friday and announced he’d sign bills to reopen and refund the government, which Congress immediately acted on.

Illinois senior U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin called for the political tactic of shutting down the government to be abandoned. “Finally, President Trump has ended his disastrous government shutdown,” Durbin said in a statement, adding, “One of the results of this embarrassing, destructive, and unnecessary government shutdown should be a new bipartisan rule which guarantees we will never face this again.”

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos agreed, issuing a statement saying, “The constant threats of government shutdowns must end. This is no way to govern and the American people are sick and tired of the dysfunction in Washington.

“For more than a month, our message has been simple — open the government, end the shutdown, and pay our workers,” Bustos added. “While I am pleased the president and Senate Republicans are finally bringing their crisis to a temporary end, folks across our region should have never been forced to work without pay.

“I hope both sides will now come together to keep the government open and to enact robust, effective border security measures.”

Bustos has written in detail about how border security with Mexico can be improved, without building a wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger tried to play peacemaker last week and urged a compromise, but he also borrowed loaded language from President Trump comparing aspiring immigrants to animals.

According to a Washington Post story reprinted by the Chicago Tribune, Kinzinger scoffed at the argument that the wall would be “immoral,” saying, “Look, I have four walls around my house and they keep bad people out and critters out.”

Earlier this month, in an Instagram post that was eventually deleted, President Trump argued, “You know why you can enjoy a day at the zoo? Because walls work."

Congress and the president have until mid-February to work out a more long-term extension of government funding — with or without money allotted for the border wall with Mexico.